Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas is starting early this year....

....and not just because of the Winter Wonderland that's being created outside, even as I type! My first gift arrived yesterday -- hand delivered by its creator: my Uncle Randy. UR is a pretty creative guy....and he makes some amazing stained glass pieces. I'm thrilled to have this loon join my collection, and already found the perfect place for him (her?) to live.

I've also been busy shopping, and happily have most of that done. I won't rub it and say that I've already gotten it wrapped. Oops, I guess I just did! :-D ....but if it's any consolation, I still have quite a bit of making that needs to be started -- and finished.

I know that some people like the last-minute shopping madness, but I'm not one of them. I do sometimes have to deal with 'last minute making'....but at least that doesn't have to happen in places that are swimming with people who are all madly rushing around (not to mention sharing with the world their least likeable traits).

This year I am making multiples of just one thing. I've got my fabric, thread, and pattern.....and the sewing will begin this weekend, I hope. I don't want it to interfere with my Jumbo schedule (I realized that if I can hooked 1/2 a square foot a night, 6 days a week = 3 square feet per week = I might be able to finish by early March). What are you making for gifts this year?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 28: 51.8 square feet

Cruising right along....but regretting taking a few nights off this week -- because I could have gotten MORE done. There are sure a lot of these little squares! It will be nice to get this long end finished off, so that I can feel about 1/4 is done. Right now I'm about 60% across.

I subscribed to Netflix over the weekend, and I'm thinking that there might be some serious TV show watching happening in tandem with my hooking. The rule will just have to be that I can't watch and not hook! :-D

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weeks 26+27: 49 square feet

Progress. Finally.

Not only did I get back hooking again on Jumbo this past week, but I pretty sure that I self-diagnosed the cause of my shoulder problem that resulted in a lost summer of hooking! Phew.

When hooking the centre of Jumbo, I was working from side to side (right to left and back again), but when I started work on the border I decided to start hooking on the long sides first. It made sense - at the time - to put my work on the frame with the least amount of rug/backing in my lap.....which meant that I would be constantly hooking vertically (top to bottom and back again). Not usually a problem for me when I use a lap frame, but with my bigger floor frame combined with my big rug, the result is that my right elbow is up and in mid-air the whole time I'm hooking. No wonder it was sore!

So this week, after the first half-hour of hooking vertically, I turned my work and now I'm back to hooking horizontally again. It's a bit more awkward, since the previously hooked parts of the border essentially end up being in my lap while I hook....but I think I can put up with it for the sake of progress. And, it's a pretty cheap price to pay for no pain.

I'm looking forward to making some great head-way this week. Now that the thermometer has dropped, it's kinda nice to play with wool again and be blanketed by a big rug while I work in the evenings. How about you - are you feeling the urge to hook?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bayfield Coin Purse Classes

Each class is special. It always amazes me how quickly I seem to fall in love with each rug hooking group that I visit.....and my trip to Bayfield was no exception. The fun started early, with a special invitation to join the group for their annual Christmas dinner (complete with yummy turkey and cranberry sauce!) and a silent auction of items from the groups library of books and magazines (I happily came home with several back issues of the Wool Street Journal).

After the first day of class, Marg (my hostess with the mostess) and I headed over to the open house at Patti Armstrong's in the evening. I already knew that Patti was a very talented rug hooker, but I had no idea that she was so talented in such a variety of other arts and crafts. Here are a few of her creations that I just couldn't resist.....and the more difficult decision - of deciding what will live with me and what will be gifted - remains. For now, I will just enjoy looking at them perched in my living room.....

It was great to see the students putting their own designs on the canvas....and putting their own ideas into a few of my designs. There are definitely some new twists in these CPs....

Diane's Dippers....

Marjorie's own design....

Cathy's Hoot....

Clair's own design....

Nancy's own design...

Linda's Bully....

Carla's God's Eye....

Kim's Klimt....

Teresa's Hooters....

Sherry's Hooters....

Nancy's own design...

Margie's own design...

Unfortunately two people had to leave early and I remembered to take pictures only after they had left....but they, too, had hooked some pretty nice coin purses. Thanks to all of the ladies who participated in the workshop....and a special thanks to Marjorie for organizing everything, and to Marg for taking such good care of me.

The drive home today was perfectly fine -- much better than what ended up being a very snowy start on Thursday. Winter is coming.....even if the snow from last week has already melted.

P.S. Here is a really good tip that I learned this weekend....if you're having trouble grabbing your needle when hand-sewing....take a piece of wide rubber band (like those that come free with your broccoli), and use that to help you grip it. An easy, free, and useful trick from Marg.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

it never gets tired....

I realized today, as I sat down to start typing this post, that my trip to Vermont on the weekend marked my 10th visit to see the "Hooked in the Mountains Show" mounted by the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild, at the Shelburne Museum. Beginning with my very first trip, with AJ, my mum, and my cousin's wife Shellie to see Patty Yoder's Alphabet of Sheep in 2001, I haven't missed a single annual show. I also haven't regretted a single minute of the 9+ hour drive each way -- it's totally worth it, to me. Whether I have taken a class, or two, taught, or simply taken in the show itself, it's always time well spent, and I consider it to be an 'annual pilgrimage' of sorts.

For me, it's a rare opportunity to see so many wonderful rugs up close and personal, that are mounted in a professional, attractive and thoughtful way. And, it's a time when I can chat with acquaintances and my fellow rug hooking peeps, most of whom I really only get to see during the show each year. I realized this weekend that I also appear to track and follow individuals' progress over the years -- and am amazed that I can recall so many past rugs and works that the same people have hooked. I really like it when I can identify the artist without looking at the description on the card.....and it makes me want to have a recognizable style, too.

One of the highlights of this year's trip to see the Show was the new program of Guest Speakers. On Sunday, we were able to take in a presentation by Ann Winterling and Peg Irish -- two rug hookers I've only known about for many years. It was wonderful to hear more about their supportive, collaborative relationship, and its influence on each other's rug hooking. Later in the day, Kris McDermet was on hand to share what she knows about hooking and braiding with silk, along with demonstrations of rug braiding in general. It was very informative -- and a lot of information was shared in a very short amount of time. Kris coauthored a recent book on combining rug hooking and braiding....and I'm looking forward to pouring over it come Christmas (thanks Mum! :-) )

It's not too late to plan a little trip to see the show -- it's still on through Sunday November 20th, and you can find out more about the planned speakers and scheduled events here.

Upon seeing the show each year, I always feel so energized and excited to start hooking when I get home. And, this year is no exception -- I will start working on Jumbo again tonight.....and get back to serious hooking for the first time in months.

This year, my mum and I took along two 'virgins': Wendie and Elaine, and it was fun to see it all again for the first time, through their eyes. Along with many of our old haunts, we also squeezed in some new places, too. It was a great girls' getaway weekend, for sure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

wardrobe refashion - part 2

Back in August, I took 3 t-shirts from my closet that I was hardly wearing and overdyed them with some Dylon dye....and I was inspired to do something with some other items. This weekend, I took three things from my closet made from wool and gave them some fresh tints to breathe some new life into them.

Unlike when I dye yardage (and don't care whether or not the colour takes evenly), with the clothing, I start off by putting the garment into a roomy pot with enough hot tap water and some Jet Dry, so that there is lots of room for it to move around in the water After it's good and wet, the pot goes onto the stove and I quickly mix up my dye. I pluck out the garment with my gloves (the water isn't that hot yet), mix the dissolved dye with the water in the pot, and then start stirring almost constantly, as the garment goes back in the water. Once most of the dye has been absorbed and the water starts to clear, I assess whether or not I'm 'finished'. If I'm happy with the colour, then I add some citric acid to the pot and let it simmer.....but if I want to tweak it some more, I add more dye until I'm satisfied, then finish off with the citric acid. As I do with yardage, if I get impatient about the rate of dye absorption, I add some citric acid to the pot -- stirring constantly and making sure that there is free movement of the garment in the water.

After the dyeing process is complete, I rinse the garment(s) and then give it/them a little bath in Eucalan or Soak (don't rinse), spin and block.

Here is the before....

And here is the after.....

On the grey cardigan, I used 1/4 tsp of 729 Forest, 1/4 tsp of Avocado, and 1/4 tsp of MC Turquoise. On the Noro striped vest, I used 1/2 tsp of MC Red Violet. On the ball of silk yarn (that was an ugly scarf), I used 1/4 tsp of 826 Deep Orchid.

Needless to say, I am so taken with the results that I have to stop myself from indulging in the urge to just overdye all of my winter sweaters. I still want to dye a couple more, but I want to be thoughtful about what colours I could add that will make the item more wearable. Now that the grey cardigan has dried more green (not 100% wool....lots of various fibres mixed together and the turquoise didn't seem to hold), I think I will give it another turn in the pots. But, for now, I need to focus on getting organized and packed for Vermont -- girls road trip starts early Thursday morning....

P.S. When I was in Southampton a few weeks ago, I added a new tool to my dye box - these silicone coated tongs. If you have dyed any amount of yarn with any other tongs, I'm sure you've been frustrated a time or ten with the strands getting caught and tangled around the clam-shells. No longer with these smooth blade tongs! IMHO they are worth every penny! :-D

Monday, November 07, 2011

when did you last visit the library?

It's embarrassing to admit it, but I sort of forgot about our local library for a few years. Maybe it's because I virtually stopped reading, or because I was tired of paying late fees (and there were many!).....but whatever the past excuses, I am glad to be back there again.

When I did my big purge a few weeks ago, one of the things I did was to box up many of my books. I realized that I just don't seem to look at some of them much, or found the time reread them....and they were just taking up space (in my already too small place). Of course I kept all of my rug hooking books, art books, idea and inspiration sources....but I pretty much got rid of all of the other books and novels that I had already read once or admitted that I would likely never read. After a some family and friends picked though and chose what they wanted, I hauled the remaining 3 big boxes to the library to donate. (In my town, staff pick through the books and add to their collection where they can/need and the rest goes into a room at the front where people can 'buy' them for a small donation). For me, it was the ideal solution -- I didn't want the books to just go in the green bin, but I didn't really want to hang onto them, either.

In the years that I've been absent from my local library, a lot has changed. Not only do they continue to lend books, but you can quickly and easily renew them online or over the phone. They also have current movies that you can borrow, a selection of books on tape, lots of computers, and much more. For me, the most intriguing new service is e-books. Did you know that you can read e-books for FREE? Most libraries now offer this service, so if you are not already taking advantage of it -- and you like to read books on your iPad, Kobo, Kindle or other device -- you should definitely inquire at your local branch.

The system my library belongs to lets you borrow up to 5 e-books at a time. The lending period is for 7 days, and at the end of the 7 days you no longer have access to the book and need to borrow it again if you are not finished reading. Since many libraries share the same inventory of books, what you want to read might not be immediately available, but you can reserve up to 3 books at a time. When it's your turn, you will receive an e-mail and you have 2-3 days to 'borrow' the book before they offer it to the next person on the waiting list. Needless to say, I've been enjoying this new service quite a bit and it's helping me work towards my goal of reading a new book every 2 weeks this year (even if I am still a long way off!).

I also checked (on-line, from the convenience of my home) whether or not they had a documentary that I had heard about on someone's blog a while back (sorry - I couldn't remember where or when, just the basic premise of the film). To my surprise, they did have "Herb & Dorothy" in their off I went this weekend to borrow it, along with a couple of other books that were on the shelf nearby. (I will try to report back and let you know how I enjoyed them....sometime before they are due back in three weeks).

With all of the talk lately about libraries in Toronto, I think it's really important to support them if we want to keep them. I'm sure glad that I've rediscovered mine.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

the lucky ducks

Since my fish is still thawing out...I thought I would go ahead and do the draw before supper, and put an end to the suspense :-D To save time (and my own ink...LOL!) I printed off all of the comments at work this afternoon, so all I had to do when I got home was to fold them and put them into bowls.....and then fluff them up with my fingers before selecting just one.

So without further adieu, I'm pleased to present the chosen ones....

Sorry about the blurry, dull photo....but it's almost dark out already. In case you can't focus on the names they are....

Gayle ("I honestly can't remember how I found you - just bouncing around in the rug hooking blogging community I guess") will be the new owner of my collection of "The R.U.G. sack"

Michelle/midgeeteacher ("I love your purses and saw you at green mountain when you taught there and heard good things about you.") will be receiving the purse pattern of her choice.

Lauri/Miz T. ("I just returned from the ATHA biennial and has such a wonderful time taking classes and enjoying the show that I would hope to make it a biennial trip. The Green Mountain Guild Vermont show is even more amazing but that's close...not a vacation. I love the outside embroidery best with the beautiful birds.") will be receiving the beautiful "outside" embroidery I purchased from African Threads.

Claire ("I use mostly 6 & 8 cuts with wool, fleece and sometimes specialty yarns for a bit of bling.") will be receiving a copy of my "Amazing Matrix" booklet.

Barbara Kimborough ("Green, green, green and more green, yellow green, sage green, bronze green, lime green, evergreen green, pear green, grasshopper green, mallard green, teal, apple green, lime green, antique black green, grey green, chartreuse.... love, love, love it all.") will be receiving some slub green, of course!

Congratulations ladies! Please send an e-mail asap to fisheyerugs AT hotmail DOT com with your snail mail addresses and full names...and I will get those parcels off in the mail to you quickly.

To everyone else who participated, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! It was so wonderful to get a flurry of comments....from newbies and longstanding supporters alike. Everyone who has a blog knows how great it is to get those notification emails -- and to me it never gets tiresome (hint, hint! :-) ) I won't promise to keep blogging for another 5 years, but I will say that if I do, there will definitely be some great prizes when I hit 10!

Happy weekend everyone. Enjoy your extra hour on Sunday.....I hope you use it to do something fun and creative. I'll be back next week with a whole list of things I've been wanting to share with you....

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There is still time....

I will be drawing for "5 years = 5 giveaways" tomorrow (Thursday the 3rd) after it's not too late to get in on the action. Just scroll down to read all about it in the next 6 entries.

Thanks so much to everyone who's been participating so far -- it's been lots of fun to read your comments. Actually, it's been wonderful :-D